Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Change, change, change. Some things never change. Using Fedora 12 in earnest.

I got Fedora 12 on its release date (17th November) and now all my systems have been running Fedora 12 for almost a month. Is it good? I think so. But what about the accolades that Fedora 11 got? I thought they were over the top. It was not the great step forward that everyone else shouted about. For me Fedora 10 was the big step. And Fedora 12 is a much better release than 11, in my opinion. Other than self-inflicted problems, it all went well.

Before I rant let me mention the good things. First unlike Fedora 11's boot time boost 12 gets a real boost on my systems! I am now up and running so fast that I have not yet seen the new graphical boot screen (I am also prone to slight exaggerations)! It looks good. This is the first time I can say that one of my Fedora Desktops looks and feels as slick as I can get with Windows. On my laptop the touch screen works out of the box, or at least it is usable out of the box. In general the hardware support looks much better.

The KVM/qemu virtulisation package ran like a dream rather than my usual Virtualbox. I have not managed to get USB working yet, something I do use so until that is fixed Virtualbox will be my virtual environment. What I can say is that KVM appears to run a little quicker than Virtualbox and gives no errors on the systems tested (including Windows 7). I am hopeful on this one.

Photographic software has all just worked. There is no great leap forward in facilities. I am still awaiting the real Linux break through on workflow but I continue to use Geeqie, LightZone and the Gimp.

I use TurboPrint, a commercial print driver, for my Canon printer. This worked fine with Fedora 12, in fact it integrates even better than before. TurboPrint is a great piece of software and I do not object to paying the developer for this one. If only he made a driver for my Canon Lide 500 scanner. This one piece of equipment is what I need a copy of Windows for. I would probably still have a copy of Windows just out of interest so it is no real extra cost. My advise to anyone who uses Linux is to avoid Canon if you can, their support is patchy at best.

What is wrong? First, my finger print reader still does not work. Support for this stopped with Fedora 11, when they introduced better support for finger print readers. This was the one exotic device that I did use and I miss it. For some reason the developers are not going to bring back this 'legacy' device into the development cycle.

My Nvidia graphics card in my laptop (a Geforce 6150 Go) does not work correctly in 64-bit Fedora with the Nouveau driver. It works fine with the 32-bit release but I use 64 bit Fedora for a reason, I am a masochist. I have spent most of the weeks since the release attempting to get this working. This is a new driver and it is working much better than previous releases. At least I can use my laptop. There are just two features I know of that I cannot get working. First the suspend function does not work, a big disadvantage with a laptop. If this worked I would consider the Nouveau driver a success. The other thing not working is 3-D support. This is something that I can live without. My desktop being dragged across the surface of some virtual cube is not a requirement for business, just yet.

Fedora 12 problems for me all hang around hardware drivers. This is not dissimilar to the Windows 7 situation. I can say that Linux is getting very close to Windows on hardware support but it is not quite there. If you run the 64 bit versions you are more likely to encounter problems, but this is true on Windows as well.

Back to Fedora 12. Is it worth the trouble? It is. Does it compete with other Linux distributions? As always Fedora is pretty cutting edge, not always the safest option. It is full of the latest software Gnome 2.28, OpenOffice 3.1.1, AbiWord 2.28.1 and so on. This list is no different to the other distributions, although Fedora usually manage the latest versions of the big guns before the others. While the cutting edge stuff should make it less stable it is normal for Fedora to have some of the old Red Hat reliability. Fedora 12 is certainly a stable release. A small number of problems effects any new release of an operating system, Fedora 12 was no different. Other than my Nouveau driver problem nothing affected me.

After a month of 'live' running can I recommend it? Of course, it is a pleasure to work with and does what I want.

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